Banyana crush Democratic Republic of Congo to book semi-final spot
Posted: 4 November 2012 Time: 10:23 am
Banyana Banyana booked themselves a place in the semi-finals of the 2012 CAF African Women's Championship with a 4-1 win over Democratic Republic of Congo in their final Group A fixture in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.
A hat-trick of goals from tall Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies striker Andisiwe Mgcoyi paved the way for a win that has set the Sasol-sponsored South African senior national women's team up for semi-final action at the same venue on Wednesday – with Group B leaders and Africa's number one side Nigeria the likely opponents.
Cape Town Roses attacker Leandra Smeda – brought into the side on the right wing in place of Nocawe Skiti – put the South Africans ahead as early as the third minute, as she tapped home a square ball delivered by team captain Amandai Dlamini.
Seven minutes later, Mgcoyi had an easy tap-in goal, finishing off a cross from the right from striker Jermaine Seoposenwe.
The South Africans could easily have been 5-0 by the break, but increased their advantage in the second half. Mgcoyi carved a cross through the Congolese defence before firing home three minutes after the break, and scored again from close range in the 57th minute.
The Congolese scored a consolation goal against the run of play in the 88th minute via defender Jolie Tutzolana, who fired the ball home from 18 metres out, with Thoko Mnadweni having no chance of pulling off a save.
Banyana Banyana went into the game needing a draw or win to secure their spot in the semi-finals, but coach Joseph Mkhonza can be proud of the effort put in by his players on the slippery Nkoantoma Stadium surface, following light rain leading up to the match.
"We have now qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition, for us this means anything is possible. Any team that has made it to the semi-finals as a chance of proceeding to the final stage of the tournament.
"We came to this tournament knowing at some stage that we would meet one of the power houses of women's football on the continent. If you have to be the best, you have to play the best. We are here to make a statement," Mkhonza says.
Banyana captain Dlamini has said making it this far in the tournament would mean facing some of the strongest teams on the continent but feels they are up for that challenge.
"Coming into this tournament we knew if we wanted to compete in the semi-finals we were bound to meet the African power houses of women's football. Now that we've made it this far we want to play our own game, taking into account the fact that we will face tough opposition being among the top four," Dlamini says.
The national coach should also be complimented for sticking with his attacking 3-5-2 formation, which allowed Dlamini, the experienced Portia Modise and young midfield sensation Refiloe Jane to dominate the centre of the park.